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Freedom Kicks: D.C. United, MLS, and UEFA Champions League links for Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

United is hootin', hollerin', and dominatin' the USL. The Washington Spirit is practicin'. Beckham is profitin'. MLS is expandin'. All that plus my guarantee that the g-dropping nonsense will stop now.

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The "crazed Mourinho running" photo I wanted was unavailable.
The "crazed Mourinho running" photo I wanted was unavailable.
Mike Hewitt

Today in Freedom Kicking: Some United news, a dash of MLS and Washington Spirit, a hearty helping of Champions Leagues of various sorts, things that make me sad, and we finish with the man who told us what to do with people who "just have a friend."

Training Notes: April 8, 2014 |
Whenever I read modern, professional team training reports, I get jealous. When I was a player, one of my many issues preventing higher achievement was that fitness training was just running. I don't hate running, but it's not fun. Now, smart teams maintain or improve the fitness of their players with high intensity drills involving the ball, and you're basically a neanderthal if you just order your team to sprint over and over or run 5 miles just because.

Anyway, DC United had what sounds like a good practice session, and no matter how hard I wish I'll never be paid to play soccer so I'm just going to curl up in a ball and weep.

Greig Named Player of the Week |
Michael Seaton and Kyle Porter made the USL-PRO team of the week after combining to score all three of Richmond's goals this Saturday.

Gyau begins rebuilding the Bison | Soccer Insider
Former US national teamer Philip Gyau - maybe you've heard of his son Joe? - has been hired by Howard to rebuild a once-proud program that was ranked as 2013's worst D1 soccer team.

MLS Power Rankings, Week 6: Toronto FC, LA Galaxy on the move in latest poll |
United is no longer in last! Of course, a win over the Revs that could have gone either way doesn't help you climb the ladder very far, which is why United is now listed as 18th.

On the other hand, a home draw against a Philadelphia Union side lacking playmaker Cristian Maidana was good enough for the Chicago Fire to climb three spots because ultimately power rankings are the devil.

Free open practices for Spirit fans Apr 12 and 17 at the SoccerPlex |
The NWSL season kicks off this Sunday for the Spirit, and the team is having two different open practice sessions at the SoccerPlex.

Why the Atlanta MLS franchise matters | Top Drawer Soccer
The word from Atlanta is that MLS will announce expansion plans there one week from today. Plenty of MLS fans are skeptical - I'm in their ranks - but Will Parchman argues that MLS success isn't impossible.

Out of the Darkness: How MLS Commissioner Don Garber Took His League From Contraction to Expansion | Grantland
Graham Parker's interview series with Don Garber - with quotes from several MLS owners - continues after a two-week break.

Borussia Dortmund Vs Real Madrid: 2013-14 Champions League Quarterfinals (0-2): On to the Semifinals! | Managing Madrid
Real Madrid advanced to the Champions League semifinals, but they were somewhat less than emphatic in doing so. Borussia Dortmund had a three-goal deficit to make up and pulled two goals back before having a litany of chances to equalize, Henrikh Mkhitaryan's shot off the post topping the list. In the end, though, Real got through despite Cristiano Ronaldo playing no part in the game.

Demba Ba hands Chelsea incredible quarterfinal win | We Ain't Got No History
Chelsea produced a crazy comeback against Paris Saint-Germain, advancing to the semifinals on away goals after a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge. Demba Ba was the star after his awkward shot - the ball actually hit his leg twice in the process of being directed towards goal - scooped up over PSG keeper Salvatore Sirigu. Cue Jose Mourinho sprinting down the touchline in a somewhat less than dashing all-polyester ensemble.

More importantly for neutrals: Zlatan is out, so basically the Champions League has joined the World Cup in being cancelled.

Toluca eliminates Alajuelense from CONCACAF Champions League, guarantees Mexico another title | ProSoccerTalk
Once again, the CCL final will be an all-Mexican affair. Alajuelense huffed and puffed, actually going close twice - including one Jerry Palacios shot off the post - in the opening half-hour. However, Toluca took the lead soon thereafter, and gave themselves a three-goal aggregate lead just after the hour mark. Alajuelense striker Jonathan McDonald was rather harshly sent off for a flailing arm grazing Isaac Brizuela four minutes later, and that was that. Los Diablos Rojos will face either Club Tijuana (you may know them as Xolos) or Cruz Azul, with Xolos holding a 1-0 lead heading into the second leg in Mexico City tonight.

David Beckham Teams Up With Diageo on New Scotch Whisky | Wall Street Journal
Yup. A Beckham scotch. I'm sure it has notes of preening overconfidence, petulance, and callous disregard for the safety of one's fellow competitors. Scissor-tackling its way to a liquor store shelf near you!

Like Shaq, MLS goalkeeper Joe Nasco doubles as sheriff | USA Today
In 2011 Colorado Rapids backup GK Joe Nasco was out of soccer and working as a deputy sheriff in Georgia (where he had the highest firearms rating in the department). Then the Atlanta Silverbacks had an open tryout, and Nasco decided to give a career in soccer one final shot. This is the start of a standard sports movie, obviously, so look for Nasco to save the winning penalty kick in this year's MLS Cup and using his bonus to keep an orphanage open.

Maryland will unveil Big Ten-themed ice cream flavor | DC Sports Bog
It's probably not wise to follow scotch with ice cream, but here we are. The University of Maryland is moving to the Big Whatever Number It Is, and one of the things done to celebrate selling out the occasion is to create an ice cream flavor. Naturally, jokes were made, including one by some jerk with a monocle in his Twitter avatar.

Jaroslav Halak asks out of start vs. St. Louis Blues, former teammates | Puck Daddy
Those of you who are not fans of the Washington Capitals are lucky. This time in "Caps fandom is inherently masochistic" news, the team's new goalie - acquired for a playoff run that is a practical (if not mathematical) impossibility - turned down a starting assignment against his old team because he felt weird about facing his old teammates.

TL;DR: Halak ≠ De Ro, Jason not sure whether to be sad or angry.

Nobody Beats The Biz
Yesterday was Biz Markie's 50th birthday. Everyone knows "Just A Friend," so here's a song that is more about Biz's success rather than his struggles with a girl from the US nation.

OK, make with the comments. This is B&RU's open thread for the day.